Barca continue dominance over Real with Bernabeu winJanuary 19th, 2012 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS
Madrid, Jan 19 (IANS) FC Barcelona continued their domination over Real Madrid with a 2-1 win at Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in the first leg of their Spanish Copa del Rey quarterfinal.
Despite falling behind to a Cristiano Ronaldo goal, Barca again imposed their superior football and second half goals from Carlos Puyol and Eric Abidal turned the game Wednesday night on its head to give the Catalans one goal advantage going into the second leg at the Camp Nou stadium next week.
Barca have lost just once in nine matches against their rivals since Jose Mourinho took over at Real Madrid.
Madrid will have to score twice if the reigning Cup holders are to have any chance of progressing to the last four.
Real Madrid coach Mourinho made several changes to his starting eleven, giving rare starts to Hamit Altintop and Ricardo Carvalho, while Fabio Coentrao started at left back instead of Marcelo.
Barcelona meanwhile played their strongest side with the exception of Jose Manuel Pinto, who started in goal instead of Victor Valdes.
Madrid looked as if they were willing to play on the break in front of their home fans, while sacrificing the ball to Barcelona and the policy paid off after 10 minutes when Ronaldo scored after running into space. His low shot went between Pinto’s legs and the Barca keeper should have done better with the shot.
Barca responded with a shot from Spanish international Andres Iniesta that was well saved by compatriot Iker Casillas, while Alexis Sanchez hit the post with a header after 15 minutes and Lionel Messi also tested the Madrid keeper.
Madrid meanwhile looked dangerous on the counter and only a vital interception from Eric Abidal stopped Ronaldo setting up Karim Benzema after 25 minutes as the game progressed at a furious pace.
The visitors had missed several chances in the first half, but didn’t have to wait long to get onto level terms. Puyol was the hero after 49 minutes, hurling himself forward to head home a Xavi Hernandez corner.
Madrid were stunned by the goal, but soon recovered their composure and Pinto redeemed himself with a fine save to deny Benzema just before the hour after Altintop had sent over a fine cross.
With 25 minutes remaining Jose Mourinho made a double change, bringing on Jose Callejon and Mesut Ozil for Lassana Diarra and Gonzalo Higuain. Callejon took less than a minute before being booked for a wild foul in midfield.
The change did nothing to change Barca’s dominance with the Catalan’s stroking the ball around the park and it was no surprise when they went ahead after 77 minutes. The surprise was that full back Abidal was the scorer as he finished off a Messi pass.
Madrid’s only response was a series of fouls and players such as Pepe and Carvalho were lucky not to be sent off.
The day kicked off with Athletic Club Bilbao taking a massive stride towards the semi-finals with a 2-0 first leg win at home to Mallorca.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side controlled the game virtually from start to finish and got their reward with headed goals from Fernando Llorente and Iker Muniain.
Llorente scored from an Oscar de Marcos cross in the first half, while Muniain did the same following a magnificent run from Markel Susaeta after the break.
The Basques also had a goal wrongly ruled out for an non-existent off-side decision in the closing minutes, but would do well to remember that in the last round Mallorca fought back from a 2-0 first leg deficit to beat Real Sociedad 6-3 on aggregate.
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Tags: andres iniesta, camp nou stadium, carlos puyol, copa del rey, cristiano ronaldo, eric abidal, fabio coentrao, fc barcelona, furious pace, goal advantage, hamit altintop, jose mourinho, karim benzema, keeper madrid, madrid madrid, real madrid, ricardo carvalho, santiago bernabeu stadium, spanish copa del rey, victor valdes